(Warning: deep & thought provoking post comin' at ya)
Not that it's a bad thing, but if you're into the "light reading" this morning you won't find that here...at least not in this post!
See, I've been thinking about something we discussed in Home Group*
(*Home group is a Bible study that meets on Tuesday nights at our pastors house*)
Right now we're reading through Romans. Last night we were reading Romans 11 and let me tell you...that is some powerful stuff. What has been sticking with me all morning is this...
What amazes me about this chapter is how a chosen nation (Israel), knowing they are the chosen race, could still "get it all wrong". They rejected God! In turn, God didn't reject them, but mercy was shown on the Gentiles. They were given the chance to be part of the "chosen people", not Jews by heritage, but like an adoption. (Or as Romans 11:16-24 explains it like a wild olive branch being grafted onto cultivated olive tree). After seeing how God extended his mercy and grace to the Gentiles, Israel came around, but not until the full number of Gentiles (according to God's appointing) had been saved (see 11:25). Only then, will the Jews be restored.
What it made me think about was my own life. God graciously, through His mercy saved me! It wasn't because of something I had done. No good work, no "living a good life". (Titus 3:5a "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us") There is nothing that could get me to heaven other than hearing God's word, having faith, confessing Jesus as Lord, and believing in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. I am to live by faith each day and serve Him through my thoughts, words, and actions.
While we can't get to heaven by being a good person, living a good life, and doing good things, this should be a natural response to living for Jesus. We should want to live our life the way He commands. As an example to others. Not just lip service (saying "I'm a Christian", but the way they speak and live their life don't reflect that).
Israel was trying to be righteous by following the law (doing the right things, being a "good person", the ten commandments etc). The law cannot make someone righteous based on what they do. Instead, Jesus makes us righteous through God's grace because of our faith. How amazing is that?!
Another way I applied this to my personal life is this.
I know how I am to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God. Am I perfect? No. Will I make mistakes? Definitely! Will I be disobedient to His instructions? Yup. Why? Because we are human...we are not perfect. If we were perfect there would be no need for Jesus dying on the cross in order that we may have eternal life in heaven. This doesn't mean that we now have an excuse to sin. The little quote "It's easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission" comes to mind. I've never liked it because it's looking for an excuse to do something wrong.
Just because I am a Christian does not give me the right to do things just because I know I am forgiven! Because I am a Christian I am to live my life for Christ. Diligently seeking out His will for my life. God's plans may not be mine, but I am to trust Him and live by faith no matter what the world says.
On the other hand, when I do make a mistake and do something wrong I need to confess it and make it right. And could it be possible that God would use my sin, my disobedience for good in someone else's life? Like He did for the Gentiles because of Israel's sin?
I've made many mistakes in my life. I have regrets about things that I have done, things that I am not proud of. I've turned around though, and although I can't change my past I can do everything in my power to make things right and not make those mistakes again. I'm not sure if my disobedience to God's word will result in someone else's life being blessed in ways that I can't imagine. (Like Israel and the Gentiles in Romans 11).
I just pray that my life, my words, my actions and my testimony (good and bad) be pleasing to God!
(I told you this wasn't "light reading". I really felt that God was putting this on my heart for a reason. I kept thinking about it and felt this incredible urge to put it on paper, and when God is urging me that strongly I better listen! So, I hope this is an encouragement and a blessing to someone today. My purpose for starting a blog was to reach out and connect with people. To share bits about my family, my heart, my God and to use it as He sees fit.)